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Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

What is HPV?
Where is HPV found?
What are the symptoms of HPV?
How is HPV spread?
How can I keep from getting HPV?
What treatments are available for HPV? How serious is the disease?
Where can I get more information on HPV?

What is HPV?
Human papillomavirus is considered to be the most commonly sexually transmitted infection. There are more than 40 types of the virus that can affect the genitals, throats and mouths of men and women. It has also been linked to the formation of various types of cancers, such as cervical, penile, anal and throat.

Where is HPV found?
HPV is found all over the world. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. In the United States, an estimated 79 million persons are infected, and an estimated 14 million new HPV infections occur every year among persons age 15 through 59 years. 

What are the symptoms of HPV?
Some people will never show symptoms of HPV and are unaware they are infected.

For those who do have symptoms of HPV, they include:

How is HPV spread?
HPV is passed through sexual contact with an infected person, either through vaginal or anal intercourse, or oral sex

How can I keep from getting HPV?

What treatments are available for HPV? How serious is the disease?
There is no specific treatment for HPV itself, but there are for its symptoms.

Visible genital warts can be treated with medication from a health care provider.

Cervical cancer, and other HPV-related cancers, is most treatable when it is diagnosed and treated early. It is recommended that women receive regular Pap tests and follow-up as needed so that a physician can identify problems before cancer develops.

HPV can be serious if it develops into cancer; however, in 90 percent of reported cases, the person’s immune system naturally clears HPV within two years of infection.

Where can I get more information on HPV?
For more information online, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Immunization Action Coalition's page on HPV. PAP tests and HPV vaccination are both available by appointment at the Health Department’s county health centers.  

Sources: Northern Kentucky Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Immunization Action Coalition